MacBook Air or Pro for college

Discussion in 'MacBook Air' started by Abussa94, Jun 22, 2013.

  1. Abussa94 macrumors newbie

    Jun 22, 2013
    Hi, I looking for a new laptop for college and was wondering what would be the best macbook for an engineering major. I will be using 3-d design software and don't know which computer is best for me.
  2. palpatine macrumors 68040

    May 3, 2011
    The Macbook Pro 15". It is the best for everybody! Well, that is true if you value processing power / performance / screen quality. Not everyone does. I value portability. I think you will have to be more specific. The MBAs will handle just about anything, but the performance will suffer. Where are your priorities?
  3. skofgar macrumors newbie

    Jun 18, 2013
    What kind of 3D-Design or you going to do?

    For things like computer science I think a MBA is ok, however for 3D simulations like Blender, Maya, 3DS Max, Cinema 4D, CAD I believe a MBA could be a little bit underpowered, but it also depends how challenging your animations/simulations are. On MBA the calculation of such images/animations will take a lot longer for sure.

    Of course if you had another computer available, besides your mobile (MBA/MBP), which could do the calculation… ;)
  4. luisito macrumors regular


    Nov 15, 2012
    If you will be using:

    Working Model

    And all those others that I use (sorry they are so many I always forget their names), then you are good to go with a MBA.

    The student version of all those programs cost money, and since they make it affordable to students and those are student versions, they are not as overpowered as the real edition, which honestly, I don't think you will be using any time soon until you hit the workplace.. since for example.. 1 license of SolidWorks without addons cost around 6000 USD per year..

    I use SolidWorks and MatLAB on a daily basis. Your computer won't get even hot.. even when SolidWorks is the most powerful 3D modeling software for engineers (but I got the student version), so the MBA is enough.

    MathLAB is only a superpowerful engineering calculator, so it only needs processing power.. the MBA has enough.. UNLESS you are trying to solve a turbulent fluid flow problem, which requires a supercomputer and weeks of non-stopping computer processing.. but that only happens on the workplace and your employer will pay hundreds of thousands for a supercomputer, so you won't need so much processing after all.. the MBA is enough. the MBA is enough.

    Did I say that the MBA is enough? Lol.. If you got questions, hit me up, I have pretty much used all engineering software there is out there, I am on my Senior year and quite eager to start my Master's Degree.

    All my friends have MBAs and use the same software as I, I recently got my first MBA and honestly, it is the way to go for engineering.

    Hope this helps.
  5. gt94 macrumors member

    Jun 21, 2013
    I'm going to be studying CS in the fall. I want to use a MacBook that will last the entire 4 years. I plan on triple booting, OS X, Windows, and Linux. I am already upgrading to 8GB RAM and an i7 processor, do you think this will be powerful enough for the 13" MBA? Or should I go with the MBP?
  6. LeeM macrumors 6502a

    Jan 1, 2012
    solidworks at least is windows only, so you'll need space for windows.
    with that in mind, can you afford to upgrade the ssd of the air? if not, get the pro. solidworks will also benefit massively from a dedicated graphics card, get a 15" pro. if you cant afford that, id suggest a well specced windows machine.
  7. luisito, Jun 22, 2013
    Last edited: Jun 22, 2013

    luisito macrumors regular


    Nov 15, 2012
    Yes. But MBA has bootcamp so no worries.

    Yes and no.

    Let me explain:

    The only way SolidWorks would benefit from a graphics card is if your model has hundreds of parts with subassemblies with more parts, on my 4 years of experience, I've never seen any engineer student do such thing, not even at master's level; that kind of power is only required for real applications, and real application required the full program which only a company could afford.

    SolidWorks is more processor intensive rather than graphically. SolidWorks is used to create a 3D model of what ever you are designing and after the design is complete, you start using tools to measure stresses or fluid movement or whatever you want, this is when you need most of the "punch" from your computer, however, this type of stuff is only seen at Master's Lever and a program called Algor has to be used along with SolidWorks, at this point only a desktop computer with enough processing (not graphics) power is used.

    So in short, by the time he does this stuff, his professor would provide him with a computer with enough power to handle the stuff, and most of the time, it will be that computer that no one touches because it is so darn expensive (as well as the program), and it is only used when necessary, and like I said, this is graduate level stuff.

    I know because I have done it, even though I am Senior undergraduate, I did research for a professor with a team of graduates under my wing.

    Yes, if you are a windows fan. Personally I would say no, MBA has enough power to handle SolidWorks easily.

    CS as in Computer Science? You won't ever use SolidWorks or any of the software I have mentioned, those are for Mechanical Engineers. You will only use coding programs, which only require processor power and it is quite minimal. (If you are thinking that you will be designing games and using the pretty cool software, you may want to talk to your advisor, because this is a big misconception among CS students).
    Rather you will be using some crazy computers made by Sun Microsystems (Java), which are quite complex and those will be available at your University laboratory under locked key and those who have the key are the top CS students. I've seen those computers through the window, they are rather... huge.. bigger than a gaming computer. But that is heavy stuff, which more likely is towards your Senior and perhaps Junior year, and definitely Master's Lever.

    So no worries man, get the MBA, you will happy for the next 4 years, 8GB and i7 will be perfect for you. Don't go with the rMBP, that is simply overkill for what you are doing, unless you want to treat yourself with a nice retina display, but if you go that way, get the 15 in. since it comes with a graphics card, the 13in doesn't have a graphics card and most people complain that the retina display doesn't handle too well under Intel HD 4000 (but that is another story).

    By the way, you will love the battery life of the MBA. Hit me up if you got other questions. :)
  8. LeeM macrumors 6502a

    Jan 1, 2012
    my point was that the 128gb isnt really big enough for a bootcamp partition, its cheaper to get extra space with a pro.

    i have a pro and an air, i use my pro for solidworks because its better at it. for programmes like that i'd always suggest getting the best within budget and, and you'll get a better processor at least with a pro.
  9. luisito macrumors regular


    Nov 15, 2012
    Yea, I get you. :)

    But honestly, I wouldn't run SolidWorks on a 11in., it would be quite frustrating to work with a screen so small, the program definitely demands much more screen real state with all the menus and tools; unless you love opening and closing menus and zooming in and out like a desperate, lol, definitely not my thing, quite unpractical.

    And I know that you can connect the 11in to a monitor, but the OP is specifically asking for a mobile machine.
  10. Abussa94, Jun 23, 2013
    Last edited: Jun 23, 2013

    Abussa94 thread starter macrumors newbie

    Jun 22, 2013
    So right now I am leaning to get a MBA but I don't know if I should get the MBP or rMBP or not. I would like a better looking display, but with that does the processing slowdown because of energy need for the retina display?

    Also, are you using a mouse when u work on solidworks? and if so is it a third party mouse or Apple's smart mouse?
  11. mattferg macrumors 6502

    May 27, 2013
    Ditch the i7 and go for a bigger SSD, the i7 upgrade is such a waste of money for most people.
  12. luisito macrumors regular


    Nov 15, 2012
    If you get the rMBP, get the 15 in., because the power for the retina display will come from the graphics card rather than the processor, then you can focus all the processing power for your CS programs.

    I will always recommend the MBA, I love this thing! Its weightless, has so much battery and can handle everything I throw at it, so get the MBA. Lol.
  13. Neeyul macrumors member

    Jun 13, 2013
  14. gt94 macrumors member

    Jun 21, 2013
    Would a 256GB SSD be large enough for a triple boot between OS X, Windows, and Linux with parallels? After those, about how much space would be left? I need software like Office and I'm assuming some others too for class, not to mention movies, music, documents, etc.
  15. kodeman53 macrumors 65816

    May 4, 2012
    Three operating systems, plus Office, movies and music? No, a 256 gig SSD will not be enough.
  16. LeeM macrumors 6502a

    Jan 1, 2012
    i use this for cad and photoshop

    any of the macbook pro range will suit fine, i went with non retina because i can have both an ssd and large hdd internally
  17. sonicrobby macrumors 68020


    Apr 24, 2013
    New Orleans
    Mechanical Engineering Major here about to graduate in december =D My personal experience: had the 13" cMBP with a 1TB HDD for all my files and the Windows OS. I had no problem running programs such as Autocad or Solidworks (didnt really use anything aside from those for class). I had no problems running it, worked fine for me for that purpose. Upgraded to a rMBP 15" last week, I cant wait to see how that one performs in the field.

    I honestly have no idea how a MBA would handle seeing as I never owned one. But it seems like both of them COULD technically do what you need it to do. Now its all about preference.

    The MBA is definitely more portable and lasts longer, but dont get me wrong a 13" MBP isnt at all hard to carry around, and it still gets pretty good battery life.
  18. Leikocyte macrumors newbie

    Jun 23, 2013
    If Apple decides to refresh the non-retina MacBook Pro with a dedicated GPU or even just with a GT3 Haswell, I will buy it instantly. But, there seems to be no point in making a MBP with the same spec as the MBA bar the optical drive and some additional ports. So maybe I'm just hoping too much. Retina display should really just be an upgrade option. In my opinion most of the people won't need that high of a resolution.

    I like the Air and it will do anything that I'll need perfectly, but if you let me choose between identical spec Air and Pro I'll definitely go with the Pro, mainly because of the form factor. So I'll probably wait until Apple decides what to do with the Pro line. I could buy last year's model but I'm planning on keeping my next laptop for at least 3 years so it seems like a really bad plan.

    Come on Apple give me something! :mad:
  19. gt94 macrumors member

    Jun 21, 2013
    How much space would the three OS, Parallels, and Office take up?
  20. kodeman53 macrumors 65816

    May 4, 2012
    I have Parallels with a Win8 virtual machine plus Office for Mac. I typically store Office files at Dropbox. I do not have any music or movies on my MBA, they're on my Mac Mini. No games.

    I am currently using 105 gigs.
  21. gt94 macrumors member

    Jun 21, 2013
    It seems like 256GB SSD should be large enough then.
  22. kodeman53 macrumors 65816

    May 4, 2012
    Since you dropped your requirements for movies and music, yes.
  23. gt94 macrumors member

    Jun 21, 2013
    I can live with less space. Thank you!
  24. kodeman53 macrumors 65816

    May 4, 2012
    You're welcome. That 512 SSD is pretty salty. :eek:
  25. AppleMacNerd macrumors regular

    Jan 23, 2013
    United Kingdom
    Always the option of an external hard drive for the MBA to store your documents/movies and music on if you come to find space is tight :)
    You can get some really compact small External HDD now adays for a good price if you want for an offer.

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